Watch Video: Fantasy: Week 1 QBs to sit and start.
After a brief retirement, a tense reinstatement and a trade away from the team he’s anchored for the last 16 years, Brett Favre is finally about to get what he was hoping for all along.
Favre will have another chance to play football on Sunday when he makes his debut with the New York Jets in their season-opening trip to Miami to face the rebuilding Dolphins.
It seemed that Favre was going to be a Green Bay Packer for life after winning three MVP awards and a Super Bowl with the team while setting NFL records for career passing yards, touchdown passes and interceptions.
After leading the Packers to a 13-3 record and a trip to the NFC title game last season, however, Favre retired at a tearful press conference in March, leading to an uncomfortable offseason with the club. Four months later, Favre began talking about a return, but the Packers maintained that Aaron Rodgers would be their starting quarterback in 2008.
“I knew I wanted to play,” Favre said. “Every day I would wake up and say, ‘Boy, I’d like to play.’ At some point in the day, I’d go, ‘Ahh, I don’t know.’ With each day that passed, I got more and more committed to do it, and that was all I was looking for from Day 1.”
To give him a chance to start, Green Bay eventually dealt him to the Jets last month, and Favre was named an offensive captain of his new team this week. He’ll make his 276th consecutive start - including playoffs - on Sunday, extending what is already a league record.
Favre threw for 4,155 yards and 28 touchdowns last season, earning a passer rating of 95.7 - his best since 1996. But he had thrown 47 interceptions next to just 38 touchdowns in the previous two seasons, and after the roller-coaster offseason, the pressure will be on to produce victories for the Jets.
“I understand that most people think the odds are against me, and that’s fine,” Favre said. “I’m not here to be a god. I’m not here to get trashed, either. I’m here to help this team win. I still think I can offer something to the game of football, to myself. That’s all I can do. I hope it works out, believe me.”
Thanks to Favre’s debut, the Jets’ opener is sure to make headlines for the second straight year. After the first game last year, coach Eric Mangini accused the New England Patriots of illegally videotaping the Jets’ signals, prompting Spygate and eventually costing the Patriots hefty fines and their first-round draft pick.
That wasn’t much consolation to the Jets, however. They lost the game 38-14, then went on to start 1-8 and finish the year 4-12.
They bolstered their offensive line in the offseason by adding free agents Alan Faneca and Damien Woody, and helped their defense with first-round pick Vernon Gholston and defensive tackle Kris Jenkins, acquired in a trade with Carolina.
They’re hoping Favre can lead them to another turnaround. They also went 4-12 in 2005, then rebounded by going 10-6 and making the playoffs under Mangini the following year.
Favre’s first game will take on an extra dimension with Chad Pennington - the quarterback he displaced in New York - on the other side. The Jets released Pennington, who started 61 games for them over the past six seasons, after they acquired Favre, and the veteran signed with the Dolphins.
Pennington beat out rookie Chad Henne for the starting job for Miami, and will try to lead a young team also looking for a big turnaround under first-year coach Tony Sparano - and new vice president of football operations Bill Parcells, a former Jets head coach.
“I think the guy will do a great job of managing our team,” Sparano said of Pennington. “And the team has responded really well to him, and that’s where we are going.”
The Dolphins went 1-15 last year, flirting with a winless season before finally beating Baltimore 22-16 in their 14th game.
Miami will have No. 1 overall draft pick Jake Long, a left tackle, to protect Pennington. The Dolphins also hope to rely on what could be a strong running game, with former Heisman Trophy winner Ricky Williams back in the fold to complement mainstay Ronnie Brown.
Williams’ career has been checkered with drug suspensions and early retirement, but he was reinstated to the league in midseason last year only to tear his pectoral muscle in his first game. His impressive performance in training camp this year led the Dolphins to give him a contract extension through next season, making clear the team’s hopes for the player who rushed for 1,853 yards and 16 touchdowns for Miami in 2002.
“He’s done an excellent job in the weight room, the meeting room, he’s come out there and he’s jumped out at us on tape,” Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said. “He looks good in the preseason. So everything we’ve seen since we got here … he’s done everything we’ve asked him to do.”
The bigger questions may be on defense for a team that allowed an AFC-high 437 points last year. The Jets twice took advantage, scoring 71 total points in a pair of victories over Miami.
New York has won four straight and seven of eight against Miami.